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Polish Convention Bureaux's Year in Review - Success Stories and Lessons Learned

In the past year, Polish convention bureaus focused on diverse areas such as promotion, market analysis, reports, as well as significant changes and trends in the industry. In summary, the last 12 months in Polish CVBs can be described as a period of intense commitment to attracting new events, building relationships with partners, organizing familiarization trips, press tours, collecting data, and participating in international fairs and other events

Polish Convention Bureaux's Year in Review

Currently, in Poland, we have 14 convention bureaus - 1 national, 5 regional, and 8 city bureaus, with some meeting specific criteria and receiving the title "Recommended Convention Bureau for the years 2023-2024" from the Poland Convention Bureau PTO. Although different regions have adopted various promotional strategies, a common denominator for most of them remains the awareness of the benefits stemming from investing in the meetings industry. Below is an industry summary of the year 2023, based on conversations with representatives of most convention bureaus operating in Poland.

Poland Convention Bureau (Polska Organizacja Turystyczna) - Aneta Książek, kierowniczka

It has been a dynamic and creative period for us, both domestically and internationally. We prioritized collaboration within the industry, giving a fresh perspective to ongoing projects such as Musical Mornings at international trade fairs (IMEX in Frankfurt, Las Vegas, and IBTM World in Barcelona), and Spotlight on Poland. Simultaneously, we introduced entirely new initiatives, like the Eventprofs Creators Lab (PL Laboratorium Twórców). In our communications, we consistently highlight the possibilities that Poland offers as a safe, friendly, and welcoming country with rich cultural and natural heritage, modern infrastructure, and a professional and aware meetings industry. Our recently concluded campaign "Poland. More than you expected" targeted the meetings and events industry professionals, reaching over a million recipients through selected industry media in Europe and the USA.

We aim to stand out in the global landscape of meeting destinations, aiming to be remembered. Using various marketing tools, we convey specifics about the industry's offerings and activities, collaborating with B2B influencers and musical ambassadors who generate content and evoke positive emotions. The "Poland. More than you expected" campaign supported our efforts at IMEX America and IBTM World, where we leveraged the power of sensory marketing. Poland is not only to be seen but also heard, smelled, tasted, and even gently touched. Positive feedback from colleagues in other countries about our promotional approach at and beyond trade fairs, especially in the digital space, fuels our satisfaction and motivation for future endeavors.

As is our tradition, we host an annual meeting with representatives of Polish convention bureaus. This year's event took place at the NYX Hotel in Warsaw (find out more), with plans for the 2024 meeting set in Katowice (details coming soon).

For more information, visit: Summary of 2023 with Poland Convention Bureau and Overview of Online Marketing Activities by Poland Convention Bureau in 2023.

Gdańsk Convention Bureau - Łukasz Wysocki, President of the Board

The past year has been particularly interesting in terms of organizing conferences and congresses. I could start by citing statistics, such as events like EuroSkills, which took place in September in Gdańsk. However, from our perspective, the key change lies in certain trends – primarily those related to a drastic reduction in the time for booking venues and additional services during the organization of conferences and congresses. An increasing number of entities, mainly corporate, make their reservations only about two weeks before the planned event. For us, at the Gdańsk Convention Bureau, this poses a significant challenge but also serves as an opportunity to enhance efficiency in coordinating contacts between meeting organizers and our partners.

Additionally, we are pleased with the evident, albeit gradual, recovery of the MICE industry. This is crucial for destinations like Gdańsk in terms of combating seasonality. We eagerly anticipate the new year, 2024.

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Convention Bureau Katowice - Dr Marcin Krupa, Mayor of Katowice

Statistics show that our strategy focused on the development of business tourism, attracting new events, and expanding those we have already attracted, is proving successful. The strong brand of Katowice and the region has allowed us to navigate the new reality when organizing online or hybrid events. The past months indicate that we are returning to the state before the pandemic. In the past year, we hosted events such as Intel Extreme Masters, the European Economic Congress, the PRECOP Conference, and the European Congress of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises.

Moreover, numerous concerts, conferences, and sports events took place. In the International Congress Center alone, over 300 events were held, with over 650,000 participants attending in person. According to preliminary estimates, the total expenditures of meeting participants in Katowice in 2023 will be comparable to 2022 – reaching nearly PLN 150 million. Simultaneously, the accommodation base in Katowice is expanding, with new facilities opening and older ones undergoing revitalization. We ensure high-quality services. The year 2023 also marks the commencement of new projects, including activities under the title of European City of Science 2024 awarded to Katowice. The second project involves efforts to secure the title of European Capital of Culture 2029, a title the city is vying for alongside the Metropolis.

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Lubelskie Convention Bureau - Dorota Lachowska, LROT Director

It has been a good year for the development of tourism in the Lubelskie Voivodeship, especially for the meetings industry. Operating within the Lubelskie Regional Tourist Organization (LROT), the Lubelskie Convention Bureau gathers quantitative data, and we already know that by the end of the year, about a thousand events took place in our region. This is a record number of congresses and conferences, many of which had an international character. We are confident that by building the region's recognition as a venue for professional congresses, conferences, and training, along with its infrastructural preparation and qualified staff, we will be able to maintain this trend in the coming years.

The Lubelskie Convention Bureau focuses on collaboration among all entities, effective marketing activities, and building strong relationships through the Ambassadors Program.

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Łódź Convention Bureau - Paweł Szewczyk, Event Acquisition Specialist

Łódź is experiencing spectacular growth, gaining recognition as a venue for MICE events on the national stage. This is confirmed by data from the report "Meetings and Events Industry in Poland," which shows that the number of events in Łódź increased by 118 per cent compared to the previous year. The past year was exceptional for Łódź due to the 600th anniversary of the city's founding. This was accompanied by grand celebrations, during which events such as the Łódź Summer Festival took place, attracting large crowds. The Łódź Convention Bureau actively promoted the city, organizing a series of study trips focused on showcasing places and spaces, while also highlighting the human face of business tourism.

Thanks to the efforts of the Łódź Convention Bureau and collaboration with partners, it was possible to organize and secure internationally renowned events for Łódź. These included, among others, Routes Europe 2023, the largest event in the European aviation industry, and the 12th Cultural Routes Annual Advisory Forum, which resulted in securing the annual conference of the European Route of Industrial Heritage for Łódź in 2025. It is also worth mentioning the changes occurring in the urban fabric, infrastructure, and revitalization processes that have enriched Łódź with new spaces and attractions.

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Kraków Convention Bureau - Małgorzata Przygórska - Skowron, Director

The year 2023 in Krakow and Małopolska was marked by the "Wide Open for Business Meetings" campaign, conducted as part of the "Małopolska – the Destination" project. As a project partner, Krakow Convention Bureau was responsible for promoting business tourism, and promotional activities were carried out comprehensively and through various channels. The online campaign garnered millions of impressions across 12 international markets. The campaign in foreign trade and opinion-forming press, including reputable publications such as The Economist, reached almost 750,000 readers.

In 2023, the Tourist Organization of the Royal City of Krakow was also established. The association will contribute to the effective management of the city, balancing the interests of residents, businesses, and visitors.

We look to the future with optimism. The number of meetings in Krakow is increasing, and in 2024, we will focus on activities related to sustainable development. As the first Polish city, we joined the GDS-Index in 2022, and the upcoming report presents us with various goals and challenges related to educating stakeholders and implementing DMO management and strategies in line with sustainable development principles. Find out more > Krakow Convention Bureau.

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Mazovia Convention Bureau - Iwona Majewska, Deputy Director

Formally established in 2019, Mazovia Convention Bureau truly began its operational activities this year due to the pandemic. As a newcomer in the market, we focused on several key issues. Firstly, we continuously build our brand and image, actively promoting Mazovia as an ideal location for organizing meetings. To achieve this, we gathered detailed data on infrastructure, including hotels, conference centers, and unique venues suitable for events. We created a catalog, both in print and online, along with a professional website featuring a search engine for such venues. We also emphasized showcasing various activities and attractions that can enrich the scenarios of events organized in the region.

We do not overlook media promotion, presence at industry events (both national and international), membership in leading associations (SITE, MPI Poland Chapter, SKKP, with plans to join ICCA next year), and, of course, organizing familiarization trips – this year, we hosted 25 meeting planners from across Poland. Additionally, the first "Mazovia Event Impact 2023" report was released in December, illustrating the impact of the meeting industry on Mazovia's economy.

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Poznań Convention Bureau - Jan Mazurczak, President of the Board

The past year was the best in the history of tourism in Poznań. Never before have so many tourists visited the city, and we have never sold so many hotel accommodations. This success is largely attributed to the meetings industry – corporate events and conferences, including major gatherings. Examples include the International Congress of the Polish Cardiac Society, the ARMO 2023 conference, or Impact'23, which drew as many as 6,000 attendees.

A significant development this year was the introduction of the Fly Dubai airline to Poznań, further opening the city to the world. This has fundamental importance in attracting international MICE events, and the immediate effect was visible in the increased number of inquiries. Additionally, Poznań, as the third city in Poland (after Warsaw and Krakow), received an evaluation from Michelin Guide inspectors. This is a success we have been working towards for many years. With a growing number of events focusing on good gastronomy, we aspire to become the culinary capital of Poland.

MTP (Poznań International Fair) is also increasingly opening up to new possibilities, as seen in events like the Christmas Fair or the Pyrkon breaking attendance records. The upcoming year looks equally promising. We will continue to develop the MICE sector, collaboratively create new packages with DMCs, and launch a new website in December. Among the new initiatives is the organization's openness to the world of commercial films, with the first international projects in December, and the project gaining momentum in 2024. Find out more on website Poznan Convention Bureau.

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Silesia Convention Bureau - Agnieszka Sikorska, Director

The activities of the Silesia Convention Bureau were inaugurated in January 2023. In less than 12 months, we successfully took our first steps in business tourism – establishing our presence and identifying the most effective promotional activities for the region in the meetings industry. In the MICE sector, we focus on incentive activities, leveraging the excellent conditions the region offers. Building lasting relationships with our consortium partners, entities cooperating with the Silesian Tourist Organization under the Silesia Convention Bureau, has been crucial.

We aimed to diagnose the market, and identify events, venues, and target groups where our offer could penetrate most effectively. We organized three fam trips, and next year we plan to have even more. This is the best way to connect with meeting planners and raise awareness of the potential of the Silesian Voivodeship in the meetings industry. We also joined industry associations – in our first year, we became members of SKKP, MPI Poland Chapter, and ICCA. This ensures access to knowledge, know-how, and numerous networking opportunities, including participation in international trade fairs such as IMEX in Frankfurt or IBTM World in Barcelona.

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Świętokrzyskie Convention Bureau - Katarzyna Batko, project manager

Established in May 2023, the Świętokrzyskie Convention Bureau operates within the structures of the Regional Tourist Organization of the Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship, with the support of the Local Tourist Organization and the Hotel Industry of the Świętokrzyskie Mountains (PL Lokalnej Organizacji Turystyki i Hotelarstwa Gór Świętokrzyskich). The idea to promote business tourism has been brewing in our minds for several years, and it is particularly gratifying that it has finally come to fruition. Together with our partners, we have developed a collaborative model, showcasing hotel facilities and attractions that provide a space for organizing MICE events in the region—primarily smaller events, team-building trips, incentives, and also, thanks to the Targi Kielce infrastructure, large conferences and congresses.

This year, our efforts focused on building the brand. We aimed to present the Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship in terms of its potential for hosting various types of meetings. Three study visits took place, each not only promoting the region but also providing valuable feedback on how we are perceived, what our greatest strengths are, and areas where improvement is needed. We emphasize themed events, locality, and the wow effect. Although our focus is on domestic clients, our location between Warsaw and Krakow also allows us to engage in international markets, as evidenced by our presence and positive reception at the IBTM World in Barcelona.

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Warsaw Convention Bureau - Mateusz Czerwiński, President of the Board

The year 2023 was exceptional for Warsaw primarily due to the prestigious title of European Best Destination, awarded to the capital through votes from the international tourist community. This recognition resulted from an intensive, weeks-long campaign led by the Warsaw Tourist Office. The significance of this victory is highlighted by two facts: firstly, Warsaw, with 142,000 votes, significantly outpaced Athens, the second-place city (by 50,000 votes). Secondly, we received additional distinctions in four categories: Best Cultural Destination, Best Destination for Food Lovers, Safest Destination in Europe, and Best Destinations for a city break. International journalists, who visited the capital twice as much as in previous years, also appreciated Warsaw. Consequently, the number of articles about the city significantly multiplied in mainstream, lifestyle, and industry foreign press.

Receiving this title could not have come at a better time for Warsaw. It played a crucial role in making 2023 a breakthrough year for rebuilding the leisure and MICE markets post-pandemic. It showcased to the international tourist and meeting planner communities that the city is vibrant, safe, and worth visiting—despite the challenging situation beyond our eastern border. Warsaw Convention Bureau website.

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Convention Bureau  Wrocław - Wiktoria Król-Cieciorowska, President of the Board

Wrocław is continuously achieving better results in terms of the number of MICE events. It is worth articulating that we still observe relatively short booking windows, which sometimes lead to logistical challenges and issues related to venue availability. Undoubtedly, it is essential to emphasize that in 2023, we successfully conducted very interesting and necessary tourism studies dedicated specifically to the meetings industry. We summarized the expectations and needs of both event participants and organizers. We conducted interviews with them regarding what they need, what is lacking, and what has changed in the so-called new reality. Additionally, we "appraised" the business tourist, revealing that such individuals spend between 800 to 1,200 PLN in our city.

Another crucial document developed in recent months is the report on green events. It compiles case studies and best practices employed by Wrocław's venues, including hotels, conference centers, and event venues. We will undoubtedly continue to develop this project, understanding how important eco-related issues have become for our clients. We are also continuing to expand the Congress Ambassadors Club of Wrocław, which is our pride and, at the same time, a showcase for the city.

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Plans for 2024

Looking towards the future, Polish convention bureaux plan to continue the development of the meetings industry in their destinations. They will focus on innovative promotional strategies, adapting to changing trends, and collaborating with business partners. An important goal is to maintain Poland as an attractive destination for organizing conferences, congresses, and events, while emphasizing the diversity of offerings and the potential of cities and regions. There is also an expectation of further engagement in activities related to sustainable development and expanding relationships with international industry partners.

We anticipate maintaining Poland's strong positions in global meetings industry rankings. In the current ICCA ranking, Poland holds the 23rd position, while in the UIA report, it is positioned at 20th. Our aim is the continuous development and strengthening of Poland as an attractive destination for international conferences, congresses, and business events.

This article was created in collaboration with THINK MICE magazine.

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